Nope, a film that will simultaneously deliver both what the audience expect and also substantially switch up any expectations they might have had going in.
Written by Jack Ransom / August 5, 2022
After random objects falling from the sky result in the death of their father, ranch-owning siblings OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) attempt to capture video evidence of an unidentified flying object with the help of tech salesman Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) and documentarian Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott).
After the fantastic Get Out and the impressive Us, there has been a huge amount of anticipation surrounding where Jordan Peele will go next with his cutting blend of classic horror iconography and thrills, alongside razor sharp social commentary. That answer is Nope, a film that will simultaneously deliver both what the audience expect and also substantially switch up any expectations they might have had going in.
I’m going to tiptoe lightly around plot details as promotional material has been fittingly cryptic to what exactly is going on up in the sky. What I can say for certain is that the film significantly turns down the horror elements than in Peele’s previous outings, opting for a more sci-fi mystery action approach to the material. There is an unabashed sense of escapism and fun to the proceedings (even with the looming menace from above), with heavy emphasis on the ragtag sibling relationship between OJ & Emerald, the tag along lonely awkwardness of alien lover Angel and Antlers’ growly obsession with the “impossible shot”, as they try to get whatever it is in the sky on camera.
There is a subplot involving ringleader and ranch carnival owner Ricky’s (Steven Yeun) past, which whilst intriguing (and with some disturbing revelations) unfortunately has little overall impact too much in terms of the present day plot investment, though this may be something to investigate more on repeat viewings. What it definitely does is play into mankind’s obsession with attempting to tame nature and Peele also delivers a hefty dose of acknowledgment of society’s obsession with capturing everything on camera and sharing it on social media despite how grave the consequences.
This was an absolute treat to see in IMAX (highly recommended if you can). The vast wide open spaces that surround the ranch, the grin inducing blockbuster spectacle of the horse and motor bike inclusive action set pieces and the jaw dropping slick and seamless camera movements that Peele utilises when shooting the unknown entity. The sound design is an utter behemoth as well. From the galloping of horses hooves, the face melting bass of the unknown entity and the horrifying screams echoing from those in its path.
Daniel Kaluuya plays a more subdued role here. Desperately trying to hold together his father’s legacy no matter how broke it makes him, his frequent cynicism is counteracted by the infectious ball of energy that is Keke Palmer who’s enthusiasm you will find impossible not to get wrapped up in. Brandon Perea’s awkward, snarky tech head is a welcome addition and Michael Wincott’s cryptic gravelly tones have everyone on edge. Lastly, Steven Yeun’s charismatic ringmaster persona is a welcome theatrical addition to the proceedings and I do wish he was in the film a little more.
Nope is actually more like a resounding ‘Yes’. Peele once again delivers his own unique spin on a genre that many are familiar with. The big ideas and bursts of blockbuster bombast work effectively alongside the misfit comedic beats and family drama. The technical elements stand tall and the film has an effectively slower burn unravelling that never drags. Some side plot elements could be improved and it does find itself hovering over a familiar and repetitive structure, but that certainly doesn’t stop it being a blast.